June 4, 2005
Voyeurism has been taken to a new level with series one of ‘Peep Show’ and if you’ve never heard of or seen it, it’s probably not what you think it is. Take all thoughts of nudity or erotic perversion out of you head and replace it with cheap little TV show that boasts an original concept and an unorthodox method of filming.
The series is seen through the eyes of the two main characters Mark and Jez, and all six episodes are presented entirely in a constant hand held, point of view fashion, leading to unconventional camera shots that are likely to induce motion sickness on the viewer. There’s also an uncomfortable feeling that you can’t escape, because of the intended amateurish style all characters are almost always talking directly into camera and are generally in the close foreground.
The original part comes in from the fact that not only can we see what Mark and Jez are seeing, and hear what they are hearing, but also hear what they are thinking. This is essentially placing the audience directly in the brain of the character and hearing what they meant to say, what they wanted to do and what they really think. Unfortunately the high concept notion isn’t reproduced in the scripts as, with the exception of the first episode, ‘Peep Show’ only manages to conjure up a laugh per episode and seems a bit flat for a supposed comedy.
Jez and Mark are flatmates in a tower block somewhere in West Croydon. Mark is a prudent office worker, who fancies his colleague Sophie, and has an obsession with War. Jez is a student-esque layabout who dreams of making it big in the music industry. As the series progresses we follow these two losers and view their life, through their eyes, from the more mundane aspects like work, breakfast, shopping and watching television through to more sullied regions like masturbation, urination, sex and drug taking.
The less you laugh at Mark’s attempts to woo Sophie and Jez’s efforts into obtaining that elusive music deal, the more you actually seem to care about these one-note-jokes. The target audience of late teens will be amused by the childlike male humour that is moderately littered with the ‘F’ word and politically incorrect jokes about cancer and misshapen testicles. This should generate a cult following but this ‘Men Behaving Badly’ meets ‘The Office’ hybrid should remain firmly were it was found – late night Channel Four.
The features are split into two segments, Mark’s Extras and Jez’s Extras, which of the two Jez actually manages to muster a few giggles as we see his video application to appear of ‘Big Brother’ in which he goes to great lengths to diligently prove that he is ‘mental’. Also he has recorded his ‘Last Will and Testament’ on camera in which he spouts off the track list of what music to be played at his funeral and makes suggestions on how to ‘beef up the chick ratio’. Not evident in the series but Jez has made a video for his dance track that we can see, and has images of people in masks that represent world leaders pretending to perform sexual acts on each other.
Each episode has its own commentary, complete with terribly recorded audio from the main stars David Mitchell (Mark) and Robert Webb (Jez) and one of the shows creators. The three bombard us with their uninteresting prattle except for the revelation that the show didn’t turn out like the original pitch.